ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Gunman (2015) Review

Updated on March 27, 2015

It’s a $20 gourmet cheeseburger. It’s a Tommy Hilfiger suit you find cheap at Ross with a missing button. It’s an Ali/Frazier fight in someone’s cramped and musty basement rather than MGM Grand. You haven’t come because it’s healthy or even very well made. You’ve come for the heavyweights. And guess what? It’s worth it.

That’s right, the knockout combo of Penn, Elba, Winstone, Bardem, and Rylance have come to rescue you from being slammed with yet another yawning, poorly written, pointless action movie. And what more could you expect from the director of Taken and the screenwriter of Dredd, two overblown pieces of action porn requiring a complete shutdown of the brain? The difference here, though, is that the story is dressed up in a shiny gown of important political issues.

It’s shameless of these filmmakers to open with a newsreel of the wartorn Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 2 minutes later introduce one of the foremost conflicts of the story, a god damn love triangle.

Seriously? This is what they want to focus on? A damsel in distress, two burly men fighting over a beautiful woman whose token humanitarian traits go completely undeveloped as she is reduced to wimpering and following the orders they shout at her? The Congo itself fades into the background as nothing more than a “bad place” where contractors do “bad things” that come back to haunt them. Not a single perspective of a member of this society becomes an important voice in its issues. How long can we continue to take this outdated, ethnocentric, sexist, white male privilege approach to storytelling before people involved in its making begin to throw up their hands and call bullshit?

I say this because it needs to be said. Change is a long time coming. Rant aside, however, if you can compartmentalize all this you’ll be better off, and more able to enjoy the true fruits of the labor: the acting chops and the action.

The supporting actors steal the show from an equally glorious lead. There’s just so much to relish! Javier Bardem gives his character a full arc with relatively little screen time, from a jealous roughneck contractor in the Congo to a jealous and sheltered rich boy in Spain. It’s a joy to watch him butt heads with Penn. Winstone carries stories on his shoulders simply sitting still in a chair and having a conversation. You fall in love with the guy and fear him in a single breath. Elba (whose role is criminally small) delivers just the right amount of “you don’t want to know what I know, so back away” attitude with a perfectly disingenuous smile. And veteran theatre actor Mark Rylance plays Rumpelstiltskin with his threadbare lines and pulls you unwittingly into his twisted eyes. Layers upon layers of character abound.

With all this glitz and glamour, it’d be easy to overlook Penn, who takes a hotshot character and plays him as an understated underdog. You can see the PTSD wearing away at his body and mind. You can sense his intensity of focus and knowledge of self-defense as he dispatches countless goons. And you can feel his regret after the fact. He makes this incredibly skilled contractor a believable human being, and it makes all the difference in the world.

And yeah, the action is intense and well-choreographed for the most part. So why deprive yourself of a gourmet cheeseburger? I say, if you’re in the mood for this kind of flick, you could do far worse.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)